Climate change is a hot topic these days, and getting hotter. Many see it as a bi-partisan issue – tree huggers on one side and greedy businessmen on the other. Recently, however, the acknowledgement of the issue has drawn a wider base of support. Henry Paulson, devout republican and the Secretary of Treasury who guided us through the credit crisis of 2008, has weighed in on the issue via a thought provoking opinion article published by the New York Times.
Mr. Paulson has been convinced climate change is not hocus pocus. Pointing to the overwhelming agreement of the scientific community, he is concerned there is a coming crisis. Mr. Paulson argues that remarkable parallels can be drawn between the Great Recession and climate change. Overlapping elements include a buildup of excess, flawed public policy, and ignored warning signs. Mr. Paulson comments that the credit crisis was a wildly complex issue which almost dismantled the global financial system, but a climate crisis would be “more intractable.”
In order to combat a potential climate crisis, Mr. Paulson suggests we implement a carbon tax while simultaneously phasing out alternative energy subsidies. In other words, we put a price on pollution. This, Mr. Paulson argues, would be a fundamentally conservative way to focus the mighty power of capitalism in a direction that rewards green innovation. Businesses would benefit financially, and the world would avoid a climate crisis of epic proportions. He brings up the standard republican criticism which points out this tax is just another way for government to grow even larger. To these critics, Mr. Paulson would say this level intervention pales in comparison to the amount required by disasters like Hurricane Katrina, or Super Storm Sandy. Climate experts warn that disasters of this magnitude are likely to increase in both strength and frequency if no preventative action is taken. With so many conflicting reports, it’s hard for many people to commit on one side or the other of the issue. Hank Paulson has committed, will you?